Revenue and financing policy March 2015

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1 Revenue and financing policy March 2015 Introduction This policy has been prepared in accordance with the Local Government Act It identifies the funding sources and mechanisms that are to be used to fund Councils operating expenses and capital expenditure for the financial years commencing 1 July The Local Government Act 2002 requires Council to identify the costs of its functions and fund them appropriately. Section 103(2) sets out the funding mechanisms that Council has available to fund its functions. They are: General rates; Targeted rates; Lump sum contributions Fees and charges; Interest and dividends from investments; Borrowings; Proceeds from asset sales; Development contributions; Financial contributions under the Resource Management Act 1991; Grants and subsidies; Any other source. Council has taken account of all these funding sources in designing its revenue and financing policy. What activities should Council fund? In this Long-term Plan Council has identified eight community outcomes, which are referred to throughout this document. The range of activities undertaken by Council is designed to fulfil the outcomes wanted by the community. The process of preparing the Long-term Plan addresses how Council can best fulfil these outcomes at the level of service required by the community. The process also identifies: A. Activities that Council should undertake and fund; B. Who should pay (after taking into account who benefits or causes the activity and the timing of such benefit or cause); C. Who causes the costs (and how much (if any) adjustment needs to be made to any fee or charge or allocation thereof for fairness, equity, wellbeing or ability to pay reasons); D. The most appropriate funding or charging mechanism to collect the revenue; E. Reviews and summarises the overall result in the funding impact statement. A summary of the activity groups is included in the funding policy table on pages Who should pay? Who benefits? Council needs to consider who benefits from each group of activities. Economic theory places all goods and services on a continuum. The position of particular goods or service depends on the degree to which it possesses the following two characteristics: Rivalry in consumption goods are rival in consumption if one person s consumption of the goods or service prevents others from doing so, e.g. chocolate bars are goods with a large degree of rivalry in consumption; if Bill eats them, Jane cannot. Excludability - goods or service are excludable if a person can be prevented from consuming the goods or service, e.g. if Bill doesn t buy a movie ticket then the usher can exclude him by preventing him from entering the theatre.

2 At one end of the continuum there are the so-called public goods. These are goods which are both non-rival and nonexcludable, i.e. everyone can consume them and no-one can be prevented from consuming them if they wish. A good example of public goods is national defence, where the whole community is protected from an invasion by the armed forces whether it wishes to be or not, and this protection cannot be removed from anyone in New Zealand. The costs of these public goods are recovered from the public as a whole (i.e. income tax for national services, or in a local community general rates). At the other end of the continuum are private goods which are both rival in consumption and excludable. Most of our daily consumables are private goods. The costs of these can be recovered through user-charges or targeted rates. Very few goods and services are entirely public goods or private goods. Most goods and services are mixed goods and fall somewhere between the two ends of the continuum which leads to a mix of funding mechanisms. The characteristics of goods or a service determine what type of funding tool might be used to fund a particular service. Local authorities may already have made judgements about what they consider are public goods when deciding whether or not to undertake a particular activity. The activity plans identify which activities Council considers: Benefit the community as a whole Benefit part of the community Benefit individuals Analysis of benefits Council has analysed the cost and benefits of all its activities, having regard to cost, availability and use. Direct charging mechanisms are used where individuals are considered to derive benefit and it is practical for Council to charge the user. These charging mechanisms mostly include: fees and charges as well as targeted rates for services. For activities which benefit the wider community Council has reviewed whether there is more benefit derived by certain sectors of the community. It was concluded while some sectors may benefit from certain activities, other sectors benefit more from other activities. Therefore Council has funded most of the remaining costs of its activities (after deducting the user fees and charges and targeted rates for services) from the general rate and district-wide targeted rates. Balancing funding requirements of today and those of tomorrow The LGA 2002 requirement to consider periods in or over which benefits are expected to occur relates to allocating costs of capital expenditure fairly between the ratepayers of today and tomorrow to ensure intergenerational equity. One mechanism to achieve this is borrowing, so that servicing and repayment costs are spread over the period of enjoyment of the asset. The second is to ensure the ratepayers of today pay their fair share for the service they are receiving today to prevent an unfair portion of costs being deferred to future ratepayers. Council is also required to manage its affairs prudently. The Treasury Policy, which deals with borrowing and investment, is designed to ensure Council is prudent in its financial decision-making. Some activities of Council relate to a portion of the district rather than to the district as a whole. These are ring-fenced for the purpose of managing costs and revenue i.e. identified as separately funded activities. They include: water supply schemes waste water schemes Borrowings relating to these activities come within the ring fence and are dealt with on an inter-generational basis. Other activities Council has resolved will be funded mostly by income derived from the activity. Consequently the borrowing relating to these activities is also ring-fenced and is consequently dealt with on an intergenerational basis. The activities include: Funding of Council Controlled Organisations Pensioner Housing In some cases general rate funding is provided, but this is clearly identified.

3 Other borrowings, being those that fund district-wide activities and the general purposes of Council, are not related to specific assets and are only entered into where it is prudent to do so. The cost of servicing is allocated across these activities in proportion to the capital involved in each activity. Council s view of the inter-generational equity concept is that it does not necessarily promote a high level of borrowing for assets that provide benefits over time, and thus over generations. Rather, it requires Council to adopt a funding strategy that charges and rates on a consistent basis over time, with each generation paying its fair share. Further, generations do not begin and end simultaneously. Generations change their composition on a rolling basis. Each generation inherits benefits from the past and passes benefits on to the future. Accordingly, Council s approach has been to combine a prudent approach to borrowing with a consistent level of rating so that rates are levied on a consistent basis over time with each generation making its contribution. Who causes the costs? Certain activities may be undertaken by Council to remedy the negative effects of actions or inactions of any persons or categories of persons. These costs are sometimes referred to as exacerbator pays or polluter pays, depending on the nature of the costs. They may not necessarily be bad or negative, but they may have negative effects on the community or environment. They typically include costs that have been caused by a person or category of persons, such as trade waste and costs arising from the lack of control of animals. Council has, in its funding policy, sought to recover most of these costs from the persons and categories of people who cause the costs. The mechanisms mostly used are direct fees and charges. Overall impact of allocation of liability for revenue The fees, charges and other funding mechanisms used are based on a sustainable approach reflecting social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of both the current and future Rotorua community. In setting fees, charges, and rates, Council recognises the need to consider factors of fairness and equity including wellbeing and ability to pay. It does so by setting direct charges at a level that is sustainable and promotes wellbeing and by using differentials for the allocation of general rates. Council has a sustainable approach for its overall funding. Having considered the allocation of liability for funding revenue needs, Council must weigh this against the current and future social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the community. This necessarily takes into account ability to pay. Councils have found there is a limit to which they can levy rates purely according to user pays. A range of factors come into play, not least of which is the inability of some users to pay for services and the inappropriateness of depriving them the use of Council services if they cannot afford them. A specific example is libraries. Councils will only recover approximately 5%- 15% of their costs by direct charges. Above this level, people use libraries less, which is undesirable in itself, and the unit cost of maintaining a library increases. Hence, both the individual and the community are worse off. Differentials (multiplier or discounts on rates) are used to address the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the community; in other words to achieve a level of fairness across the district. This includes the ability to pay of various groups of ratepayers. Other mechanisms for such purposes are the Council s remission policies. Selection of the most appropriate charging mechanism How does Council pay for these services? Council derives its income from several sources, and rates form part of the gross income of Council after it has exhausted other sources of revenue. Council considers the extent to which activities can be funded by fees, charges and other non-rating mechanisms such as: Income from sales, commission and investments Fees and charges Development and financial contributions Other forms of direct charges

4 These are supplemented by: Subsidies, where available Grants, where available Allocations from central government and regional offices, where available Business Borrowing, where appropriate Income from sales, commission and investments Some Council activities generate income from entrance fees, sales of product, commissions on sales, event management and similar opportunities. Fees and charges Fees and charges are used for services where there is a benefit to an individual or group. Where possible, Council sets fees and charges to recover the full or part of costs for a variety of services provided. Various types of regulatory services are also bound by statutory fees, e.g. under the Building Act 2004, Sale of Liquor Act Development and financial contributions Capital expenditure, relating to growth, can be funded through development contributions, as prescribed in the LGA 2002 and/or by financial contributions prescribed in the Resource Management Act The District has seen little growth over the last 10 years and is forecast to grow modestly over the next ten. There is no capital expenditure required for growth over the coming years. The Council has reviewed its Policy on Development Contributions and has removed the policy for the financial years commencing 1 July Developments underway before this date are captured under our old policy and will be required to pay under the previous policy. Subsidies, grants and funding allocations Council looks for opportunities to apply for alternative sources of funding including subsidies, grants and allocations from central government, regional offices, foundations and other organisations where this may be available. These are discretionary based on policy and available funds of the contributing organisation and may vary from year to year. Business Council may enter into business to supply another source of funding. This may include business partnerships. Borrowing Council may borrow New Zealand currency to finance their lawful functions. Borrowing is a useful method of funding the costs of capital expenditure where the benefits will accrue into the future. When considering borrowing as a funding source, the Council will consider both the principles of managing within its rates and debt limits as defined in the financial strategy. The Treasury Policy, which deals with borrowing and investment, is designed to ensure Council is prudent in its financial decision-making, and borrowings are only entered into where it is prudent to do so. General Rates General rates apply: if the community as a whole generally gains benefit from the service; or it is available to all to take advantage of, the recovery of the cost is dependent on ability to pay; or the cost is not directly or readily recoverable from a particular group; or it cannot be reasonably collected by any other means. The general rating mechanisms are: a UAGC (uniform annual general charge) on each rating unit (property); and a general rate of cents in the dollar of value. If one sector gets more benefit than others, a differential is adopted to: a) take account of the level of benefits available; or b) carry out specific policies of Council; or c) take account of various purposes and wellbeing issues, including ability to pay. Also, if a sector needs to be subsidised, then general rates are charged on a differential basis.

5 When costs cannot be recovered other than by way of general rate, they effectively become a tax on property value. As a tax on property value, general rates are governed by the attributes of a proportional tax (a standard rate in the dollar of value). This feature might be identified as progressive in effect. A general rate is a tax that can be applied on property at a standard rate across the district. Therefore high value properties pay more than low value properties. This is generally referred to as an undifferentiated system. But this may give unrealistic results that are not sustainable, which in turn means they may not be fair, equitable and reasonable. The solution may be to use differentials. Differentials exist when different general rates are applied to different categories of property. Targeted Rates Council uses targeted rates to fund services where it is determined the cost of the service should be targeted to the group that benefits much more than the general benefit most ratepayers receive. Targeted rates may be set on a uniform basis or differentially for different categories of rateable properties. The typical examples of targeted rates are water, sewage, tourism, and economic development. Council uses direct charging (user pays) mechanisms to the extent possible and reasonable having regard to the current and future social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the community. Council s approach to funding Council takes a consolidated corporate approach to the management of its financial position. Through its Long-term Plan, it balances the level of capital expenditure required to meet strategic goals and maintain current service levels which are sustainable within the prudential guidelines set. These parameters are contained in the Treasury Policy. Most of Council s activities are funded on a district-wide basis for the following reasons: Synergistic relationship between city and rural communities, and lakeshore settlements. Large parts of district affected by lakes or their catchments and geothermal activities. Much of the expenditure that is local by nature being also available to all the district e.g. rural seal extension. Council has been even-handed with local expenditure across the district over time. Asset management plans are maintained for all infrastructural services and these provide information about asset condition and asset renewals required to maintain desired service levels. Routine ongoing plant and equipment purchases are funded from depreciation charges and operating revenue. Capital renewals are mostly funded from depreciation (funded by revenue), and from operating revenue. New capital developments are mostly funded from borrowing, subsidies and grants (when available), user contributions, asset sales and reserves. Borrowing is an appropriate funding mechanism to enable the effect of peaks in capital expenditure to be smoothed and also to enable the costs of major developments to be borne by those who ultimately benefit from the expenditure. Borrowing, as noted above, is managed within the framework of the Treasury Policy and together with the asset management plans, helps ensure prudent stewardship and effective use of Council resources for now and the future. Policy Statement Funding of operating expenditure (Section 103(1)(a)) Where expenditure does not create a new asset, or extend the life or usefulness of an existing asset, it is classed as operating expenditure. Most of Council s day-to-day expenditure comes into this category. Council generates sufficient cash inflow from revenue sources (including rates) to meet cash outflow requirements for operating expenditure over the long term. Council must ensure that each year s projected operating revenues are at a level sufficient to meet that years projected operating expenses. This is the balanced budget requirement. Council s policy for funding operating expenditure is:

6 a) Direct charging mechanisms to the extent considered reasonable and practical, including: Sales, commission and investment income; Fees and charges; b) Subsidies, grants and funding allocations where these are available c) Targeted rates where the beneficiaries can be identified and the benefit measured d) Balance by way of a UAGC (uniform annual general charge) and general rates levied on a differential basis. Funding of capital expenditure (Section 103(1)(b)) Capital expenditure is the category of expenditure that creates a new asset or extends the life of an existing asset. Council must ensure that each year s funding for capital expenditure is at a level sufficient to meet that year s projected capital expenditure. Council mostly utilises the following sources to fund capital expenditure: a) Borrowing where this best matches charges placed on the community against the period of benefits, with repayment over several years; b) Proceeds of assets sales if available; c) Financial contributions where these are appropriate; d) Subsidies, grants, and funding allocations where these are available; e) Targeted rates where the beneficiaries can be identified and the benefit recovered; f) UAGC, general rates and transfers from reserves g) Interest and dividends where available. The funding of capital expenditure depends on the nature of capital expenditure. This can be categorised as: Cost of renewal of assets This is the routine replacement of existing assets with a modern equivalent asset to the same function and capacity at the end of its life. These replacements are reasonably constant in nature and it is our intention to fund these from each year s depreciation charge. It is our policy to move towards fully funding our depreciation to ensure future renewals are fully funded from operating surpluses. Cost of backlog This relates to the period of a planned (or completed) capital project that is required to rectify a shortfall in service capacity to meeting existing community direct at the current agreed levels of service. Cost of growth This comprises the portion of planned (or completed) capital projects providing capacity in excess of existing community demand at the current agreed levels of service. Cost of improved level of service This relates to the cost of improving the level of service to an agreed new level above that previously agreed. Further information and analysis concerning the funding of both operating and capital expenditure for the respective activities of Council is provided in the body of Council s Long-term Plan in terms of the requirements set out in Section 101(3) of the Local Government Act This information includes: Beneficiaries of the activity Period of benefit Who creates the need for the activity The funding source Specific funding of estimated capital and operating expenditure.

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